In fact, many pharmacies have suspended vaccinations due to heavy workloads, relocation of time to troubleshoot drug shortages, and lack of PPE. Specifically, patients receiving multi-dose vaccine series (eg. Shingrix, Varivax III, and Gardasil 9) have been most impacted. Given the complexities of patient risk vs. needs, how can we best support pharmacists to navigate these challenging circumstances?
To start, we’ve compiled a list of vaccine schedule misconceptions to support front-line pharmacists in handling vaccination services during COVID-19.
Vaccine Schedule Misconceptions
Here are some common misconceptions about scheduled vaccines:
1. Recommended maximum intervals must be strictly followed.
False, maximum intervals do not exist because the body has immunologic memory.
If vaccine dose is administered ≤ 4 days before the recommended due date, it can be considered valid
If dose is given earlier ( ≥4 days before due date), it is considered invalid as the efficacy cannot be assured
4. If maximum intervals don't exist, it's safe to miss vaccine doses.
False, a lapse in vaccination schedules prolongs the patient’s risk of acquiring the vaccine-preventable infection (VPI). There’s a lack of efficacy studies on delayed immunization schedules.
Additionally, to better support pharmacists in their clinical decision-making process, we created a COVID-19 Vaccination Framework based on the latest guidelines.
We collected evidence-based guidance documents from leading Canadian healthcare organizations to establish this framework. Additional resources can be found in the references section.
It's crucial to establish contingency plans and management protocols, which provide clear guidance, alleviate stress, and promote resilience during times of uncertainty. Often, a proactive approach can ensure the adaptability of pharmacy services amidst the rapidly evolving COVID-19 crisis.
Pharmacists to consider wearing all PPE elements recommended for droplet/contact exposure (surgical mask, full-length, long-sleeved gown, gloves, and eye protection) in cases where vaccination should not be delayed for patients with suspected COVID-19.
How have you been handling vaccination concerns in your practice? Please share your learnings with us on LinkedIn, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to connect with you and continue the dialogue with our pharmacist colleagues.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our COVID-19 Vaccination Series, where we use the framework to dive into a patient case.
Graphics: Michelle Yee Editors: Rui Su and Yifan Zhou
Disclaimer: The contents of this blog is to be used for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace clinical guidelines or the advice of a health professional. Patients should contact a health professional for appropriate advice.